Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
- Full Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream
- When Written: Early to mid 1590s
- Where Written: England
- When Published: 1600 (though it was first performed earlier, probably between 1594-96).
- Literary Period: The Renaissance (1500 - 1660)
- Genre: Comic drama
- Setting: The city of Athens and the forest just outside, in some distant, ancient time when it was ruled by the mythological hero Theseus.
Shakespeare or Not? There are some who believe Shakespeare wasn't educated enough to write the plays attributed to him. The most common anti-Shakespeare theory is that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, wrote the plays and used Shakespeare as a front man because aristocrats were not supposed to write plays. Yet the evidence supporting Shakespeare's authorship far outweighs any evidence against. So until further notice, Shakespeare is still the most influential writer in the English language.
A Midsummer Night's Parallel. Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet around the same time he wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare mocks tragic love stories through the escapades of the lovers in the forests and the ridiculous version of Pyramus and Thisbe (a tragic romance from Ovid's The Metamorphoses) that Bottom and his company perform. So at the same time Shakespeare was writing the greatest love story ever told, he was also mocking the conventions of such love stories. It's almost as if Shakespeare was saying, "Yeah, it's tired, it's old, and I can still do it better than anyone else ever could."